Also Credited As:Eric Marlon Bishop
|Actor, Director, Producer, Writer, Music|
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Born Eric Bishop on Dec. 13, 1967 in Terrell, TX, Foxx was adopted and raised by his maternal grandparents, Mark and Esther, who took over parenting duties when his father, Shaheed, a stockbroker, and his mother, Louise, a homemaker, divorced when he was young. Despite being a class clown, Foxx was a precocious child who learned classical piano from the time he was five, thanks to the prodding encouragement of his grandmother. He eventually attended Terrell High School, where he excelled at both music and athletics, playing quarterback on the football team and becoming the first player at the school to ever pass for 1,000 yards. After graduation, he received a music scholarship for U.S. International University in San Diego, CA, but left after two years to pursue a career as a stand-up comic after discovering his talents during an open mic night. Over the next couple of years, Foxx appeared on stages at The Comedy Store and The Improv, as well as the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. In 1991, Foxx won the Oakland Comedy Competition, which turned out to be the same year he upped his profile after being cast on the hit sketch comedy show, "In Living Color."
Though he was part of numerous sketches, including playing a never-was boxer named Carl "The Tooth" Williams, Foxx achieved notoriety as Wanda Wayne, the ugliest woman in the world. The popular character boosted the comedian's profile, turning him into a star, even though the show itself began to show signs of wear after Daman Wayans left in 1992. Meanwhile, Foxx took his first steps into the feature world, making his debut in the dreadful Robin Williams comedy "Toys" (1992). He redeemed himself with his own HBO comedy special, "Jamie Foxx: Straight From the Foxxhole" (1993). Once "In Living Color" went off the air in 1994, Foxx returned to making features, though he struggled to gain a foothold. He had a small supporting role as a boxing manager in the little-seen comedy, "The Great White Hype" (1996), and played the friend of a man falling for two women (Janeane Garofolo and Uma Thurman) in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" (1996).
Foxx returned to series television with his own sitcom, "The Jamie Foxx Show" (The WB, 1996-2001), on which he was an aspiring actor who moves from Texas to Los Angeles, only to be sidetracked by working at his family's hotel. Although never a ratings smash or even a cult hit, the series allowed Foxx to build an audience and hone his talents, leading to bigger feature roles. At first, he was cast in comedies pitched to urban audiences, including "Booty Call" (1997) opposite "Living Color" cohort Tommy Davidson, and "The Players Club" (1998), a strip-club comedy from writer-director Ice Cube. Foxx first ventured into more dramatic territory when Oliver Stone cast him as a nervous third-string quarterback-turned-overnight sensation in "Any Given Sunday" (1999), a role he earned after rapper-turned-actor Sean Combs backed out. Despite initial setbacks in acclimating to a dramatic part, Foxx settled into the role and delivered an impressive performance, particularly in scenes opposite Al Pacino. He managed to balance action and comedy with the middling thriller "Bait" (2000) from director Antwone Fuqua, playing an ex-con used by federal agents to lure a killer out of hiding, which he followed with a turn as a hapless man caught up in an outrageous hostage situation in "Held Up" (2000). Returning to dramatic fare, he showed signs of things to come with a complex performance as Drew 'Bundini' Brown, the troubled ring man for Muhammad Ali (Will Smith) in director Michael Mann's biopic, "Ali" (2001).
Foxx continued his triple-threat tour-de-force, excelling as the host of the "MTV Movie Awards" in 2001. He returned to his first love with his second stand-up HBO special, "Jamie Foxx: I Might Need Security" (2002), which honed its sights on American security and the conflict formerly known as the War on Terror, as well as showcased his usual skewering of celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal and Whitney Houston. After serving as host and executive producer of "Jamie Foxx Presents Laffapalooza" (Showtime, 2003), a showcase of up-and-coming stand-up talent, as well as a commended turn in the otherwise forgettable comedy, "Breakin' All the Rules" (2003), Foxx went on a fast and sudden career uptick that propelled him from popular comedian to award-worthy dramatic actor. Foxx made a substantial breakthrough with the telepic, "Redemption: The Stan 'Tookie' Williams Story" (FX, 2004), in which he delivered a widely praised performance as Williams, founder of the notorious L.A. street gang the Crips, who went from Death Row inmate to being nominated for a Nobel Peace Price, though he was eventually executed for committing a 1979 murder. Foxx, who actively tried to prevent Williams' execution, earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Male Performance in a Miniseries or Television Movie.
Foxx next surprised audiences with an engrossing and sophisticated performance in Michael Mann's slick thriller "Collateral" (2004), in which he played a struggling Los Angeles cab driver who gets hired for the night by a relentless hit man (Tom Cruise) hired to kill five people about to testify against a powerful drug trafficker (Javier Bardem). Foxx earned critical kudos yet again, as well as Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor. But Foxx saved his best for last in 2004, giving a transformational performance as legendary R&B singer, Ray Charles, in the big screen biopic "Ray." Foxx's explosive turn transcended mere impersonation; Foxx became Charles onscreen, often to the point of being indistinguishable from the real-life Charles. The role of a lifetime firmly established the comic as one of the most talented and versatile dramatic actors of his generation, while the resultant raves culminated in a series of well-deserved professional accolades and nominations. Foxx reached the zenith of his profession, earning a Golden Globe, SAG Award and Oscar for Best Actor, as well as several others including wins at the BAFTA Awards and a multitude of critics' awards.
The actor's first followup to hit theaters following his Oscar triumph was the decidedly underwhelming action film, "Stealth" (2005), which cast him as a hotshot pilot of high-tech military planes. Fortunately for Foxx, the forgettable side trip was filmed before he won Oscar gold and was not a sign of things to come. One of his first post-Oscar jobs was "Jarhead" (2005), director Sam Mendes' insightful psychological adaptation of former U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling memoir of his experiences during the 1990 Gulf War in Iraq. Foxx was cast in a potentially familiar role as a hard-driving Marine training sergeant, but the script, direction and Foxx's performance served up enough subtle curves and quirks to establish the character as a counterpoint to Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) by his grounded desire to serve in the military. Meanwhile, Foxx began pushing his musical career again after the classically trained musician's debut album Peep This (1994) was released to little fanfare. He appeared on Kanye West's song "Gold Digger," which held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for several weeks straight in 2005. In December of that same year, he released the R&B album Unpredictable, which, despite a tepid critical reception, emerged as a chart-topper and eventual Grammy nominee for Best R&B Album.
Refocusing his attention on acting, Foxx was again cast by director Michael Mann; this time to play Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs in the remake of Mann's hit 1980s police procedural, "Miami Vice" (2006). Shooting began in April 2005 and, from the start, the production experienced one disaster after another, including Foxx's near-miss during a joyride in a convertible Ferrari with co-star Colin Farrell, who played partner Sonny Crockett. A strong wind blew out the windows on a skyscraper and sent large shards of glass onto the street where the actors were cruising. Both barely escaped unscathed. There were also death threats from local gangs and Farrell was admittedly in the throes of a drug and alcohol addiction. Despite the odds, the film opened to mixed critical reviews and decent box office returns. Meanwhile, Foxx found himself in the Oscar mix again with a strong performance in the much-hyped "Dreamgirls" (2006), a big screen version of late director Michael Bennett's Broadway musical about the rise and potential fall of a black female singing trio (Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose) in the 1960s and 1970s. Foxx played Curtis Taylor, Jr., a ruthlessly ambitious talent manager from Detroit who turns the singing group into stars, but strictly on his own terms. Despite his admirable work, however, this time the lion's share of kudos and awards went to actress Jennifer Hudson and co-star Eddie Murphy.
In another career shift from serious dramatic actor to action star, Foxx starred in "The Kingdom" (2007), playing an FBI special agent who assembles a counter-terrorism unit that investigates a deadly attack on Americans living in a housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Directed by Peter Berg, "The Kingdom" was more sociopolitical thriller than straight-up action - often to its own detriment - which limited audience interest and critical approval. Returning to the dramatic fare that established his credentials, Foxx starred in "The Soloist" (2009), a real-life telling of a Los Angeles Times columnist (Robert Downey, Jr.) who befriends a homeless musician (Foxx) who was once a child prodigy, only to be forced to live on the streets after developing schizophrenia during his training at Juilliard. In the thriller "Law Abiding Citizen" (2009), he was a prosecuting attorney targeted by a homicidal maniac (Gerard Butler) hell-bent on taking on the corrupt criminal justice system, while in the ensemble romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" (2010) he was a sports reporter who finds his match in a woman (Jessica Biel) who shares his hatred of the holiday. After cameos in "Due Date" (2010) and "I'm Not Here" (2010), Foxx voiced Nico in the animated "Rio" (2011), before playing con artist Dean "Motherf*cker" Jones in the R-rated comedy "Horrible Bosses" (2011), starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as three put-upon employees who plot the murder of their employers. Foxx was next cast as the lead in Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti Western homage "Django Unchained" (2012), in which he was a revenge-minded slave who helps a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) track down two ruthless killers in exchange for freedom and a reunion with his long-lost wife (Kerry Washington). He followed this with the action thriller "White House Down" (2013), in which he played the President of the United States opposite Channing Tatum as a disgraced Secret Service agent battling terrorists who have taken over the presidential residence. After a reprise of his voice role as Nico in "Rio 2" (2014), Foxx entered the world of superhero sequels with his villainous turn as Electro in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014).